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UCLA School of Law Receives $5 Million Gift for Program in Public Interest Law and Policy

School Names Public Interest Law and Policy Program after Donor, David J. Epstein

LOS ANGELES--UCLA School of Law has received a landmark $5 million gift from David J. Epstein (J.D. class of ’64), founder of the Unclaimed Property Clearinghouse.  In recognition of this generous endowment gift, UCLA School of Law will name the David J. Epstein Program in Public Interest Law and Policy.  The gift also establishes the Jane Epstein Scholarships for Educational Law and Policy, named for David Epstein’s wife, a life-long educator.

Epstein has dedicated his life and work to giving back and to public service.  According to Michael H. Schill, dean of the law school, “David Epstein is a lawyer who has done well by doing good.  Epstein founded the Unclaimed Property Clearinghouse in 1984 which, on behalf of the states, audits businesses for unclaimed funds owing to others.  His path-breaking work returning abandoned financial assets to rightful owners embodies the ideals of public interest that we seek to imbue in our own students.” 

“David Epstein is among our most successful and inspiring alumni,” said Schill.  “His leadership support for our public interest programs epitomizes who David is – a person dedicated to giving back, committed to public service and devoted to our law school.  His gift, the largest ever from a living alumnus, will have a real impact on our ability to educate and train the very finest students who will enter careers in public service, not-for-profits and government agencies.”

Epstein’s interest in unclaimed property was sparked by his work in the California gubernatorial campaign of Jerry Brown.  After working on the Brown campaign, he turned down an appointment to join the bench and decided to work at the California State Controller’s Office, where he designed a program to help the state enforce its unclaimed property law.  As a result of his audit program, state collections increased in a few years from $2 million to more than $100 million a year.  California is now looking for the missing owners of $5.1 billion in unclaimed property.

Providing a program to educate and train students to pursue careers in the public interest has been at the very core of the public mission of UCLA School of Law since its inception.  The School has developed a highly respected public interest program that has enabled students and graduates to give back to the community, region, state and nation.  The program’s faculty represent a broad cross-section of interests in social justice issues and have brought a depth of knowledge from a wide range of experiences and scholarly research perspectives.

“The UCLA School of Law Program in Public Interest Law and Policy has a great tradition of training innovative lawyers who dedicate their careers to promoting the interests of underserved communities and causes,” said Professor Scott Cummings, faculty chair of the public interest program.  “This incredibly generous gift will ensure that the Program remains on the leading edge of public interest education for many years to come.”

Priorities of the Epstein Fund include the support of student scholarships to attract top talent into the Program, loan repayment assistance to enable work in the public sectors and not-for-profit sectors, summer fellowships for students in public interest, and the development of relevant coursework, conferences and related research. 

Epstein is an active UCLA Law alumnus who serves as a member on the UCLA School of Law Board of Advisors.  He is a dynamic attorney who has specialized in unclaimed property law for the past 30 years.  Epstein also served as a commissioner on the California State Little Hoover Commission.  He has also been a reporter to the Uniform Law Commission, during which time he played an integral part in the rewrite of the Uniform Unclaimed Property Act, which was adopted by more than 30 states.

”Compliance with state unclaimed property law is good for everyone,” Epstein said.  “Unclaimed property law is the only law that provides for the lawful owner to get their property back -- and there is no charge for recovering that money. You don’t have to pay an attorney. You don’t have to pay the state treasury or other agencies to collect it. And you don’t have to pay the former holder of the property. There is no other law that works this way.”

He has authored Escheat and Abandoned Property Laws: Survey and Analysis, published by the American Society of Corporate Secretaries, which is distributed to every major public corporation in the nation. He also authored Unclaimed Property Law and Reporting Forms, a seven volume treatise that covers state escheat laws and the requirements for holders of unclaimed property, and includes an analysis of the Uniform Unclaimed Property Acts, relevant case law and state statutes.

About David J. Epstein
In addition to founding the Unclaimed Property Clearinghouse in 1984, Epstein is an active attorney who has specialized in unclaimed property law for the past 30 years.  Epstein previously served as a commissioner for the California Little Hoover Commission.  He has also been a reporter to the Uniform Law Commission and an advisor to the Uniform Law Commission Drafting Committee. He has authored Escheat and Abandoned Property Laws: Survey and Analysis and co-authored Unclaimed Property Law Reporting Forms.

Philanthropic leadership runs in the Epstein family.  His twin brother, Daniel Epstein, made a major gift to USC to name the Daniel J. Epstein Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering.  David Epstein’s gift ensures that both UCLA and USC benefit from their family’s philanthropy and leadership.

About UCLA School of Law
Founded in 1949, UCLA School of Law is one of the newest major law schools in the nation. With approximately 100 faculty and 970 students, the School is a leader in bridging the gap between interdisciplinary research and training, and is at the forefront of efforts to link research to its effects on society and the legal profession. The School also offers one of the best programs in Public Interest Law and Policy in the country.